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Published: Thursday, 5/20/2004

European ruling delayed on O-I deal in France

The European Commission said yesterday that it has delayed by two weeks its ruling on Owens Illinois Inc.'s planned acquisition of French glassmaker BSN Glasspack SA, an indication of concerns about the deal.

A spokesman for O-I said officials of the Toledo-based firm are "very confident that it will receive approval from the commission and this transaction will take place."

The commission plans to act by June 9 instead of its previously set deadline of next Wednesday.

Often, a postponement of action on a merger or takeover deal involves a review of antitrust situations by the commission and can require some parts be sold off or that comments be received from customers and competitors that might be affected.

O-I announced three months ago that it planned to buy France's second-largest glass company in a $1.5 billion deal that includes $625 million in cash and the assumption of $835 million of the French firm's debt.

In mid-March, O-I made its offer official, saying it had reached a definitive agreement with BSN Glasspack's current owner, CVC Capital Partners Ltd., and that the deal was expected to be completed by July.

If the deal is allowed, it could make O-I Europe's largest manufacturer of glass beer, wine, and liquor bottles. The acquisition of BSN Glasspack, which has annual sales of about $1.6 billion, could boost O-I's annual revenue to nearly $8 billion.

However, the 101-year-old Toledo firm is also considering selling off some or all of its plastic-bottle operations that do a yearly volume of nearly $1.9 billion in North and South America and Europe.

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